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Soldiers support Riceboro students during back to school rally
Spc. C.J. Pennington, with Company C, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, congratulates children as they complete team-building activities as part of the 14th annual Back to School Rally, at Briar Bay Park, Riceboro, Ga.

RICEBORO, Ga. – The new school year is just a few weeks away for the Riceboro, Ga., community and Fort Stewart service members are helping local students get ready. Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and the 385th Military Police Company joined local businesses and youth organization Project Reach ‘God’s Anointed Now Generation’ Inc. to help motivate families during Riceboro’s annual Back to School Rally, July 14.

“We need to get together as a unified body of people working for a common cause … and the common cause is our children,” said Levonia Lecounte, event coordinator and executive director of Project Reach G.A.N.G. Inc.

Lecounte initiated the rally in 1998, and the event attracts hundreds of Liberty County residents each year to Riceboro’s Briar Bay Park.

“We encourage [our students] to do better than last year and for their parents to get more involved with their children's education,” she said.

While local businesses handed out free school supplies and offered educational insight, members of the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th IBCT, hosted team-building activities for the children to participate in. Events like tug-of-war, and other field-day activities help children build self esteem, perseverance and focus, Lecounte said.

Other military support included a static display, where the 385th MPs showcased an armored security vehicle, high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, a .50-caliber machine gun and an Mk-19 automatic grenade launcher.

“Events like this are so important to our kids,” said Lt. Col. Matthew McCollum, commander of 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th IBCT, and guest speaker during the ceremonial portion of the rally. “It sends a message to our children that the citizens of Riceboro, Liberty County, parents, teachers, city leaders and the surrounding military community are concerned about them. The community is providing it’s youth with the necessary foundation of information, education and opportunity to ensure success in the future.”

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